The Catholic Defender: The Virgin Birth of Jesus and Mary's Purification
Luke 2:22-24 States, "And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
This coming February 2-3 marks the time of this scripture to be fulfilled, the 40 days as prescribed by the Law of Moses.
I've been challenged by some who would pose a question like this, "If the Virgin Mary was sinless, why did she need to go through the purification after giving birth to Jesus?"
Jesus and Mary had the most unique relationship of all time. Both were specially given specific gifts with the purpose of restoring God's relationship with man which was lost with the fall of Adam and Eve
Mary's purification rite is very close to the purpose of Jesus Baptism. Like Jesus didn't need baptism for his salvation, Mother Mary didn't need this purification rite for her salvation. It was for ours. Mary went through the process in accordance to the Law of Moses in humble obedience. Mary loves God above all things and her love for the Law of God was an intimate event that the Lord God blesses with all of his creation in mind.
Mother Mary gives the believer the example of humility as she thanked God for the special graces and favors He bestowed upon her for our benefit. Jesus and Mary followed the Law as was prescribed to show the true nature of the sacramental system and God's entrustment of grace administer to God's subjects.
Ephesians 1:5-6 St. Paul states, “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
St. Paul uses the Greek word, “echaritosen,” notice the word "Charis" or ”charitoo” which is important to the text. Here, God “graced” us or He “bestowed grace” on us representing a certain time as a result of an action. When Jesus was baptized, it was for our benefit as he purified the waters of baptism. When we are baptized, we are receiving grace being "bestowed" on us.
It is for whom the Virgin Mary is and why Jesus was born that we have cause for celebration.
Genesis 3:15 states, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” As Eve became the mother of the living (Genesis 3:20), so too, because of the fall, Mary the Mother of Jesus became the Mother of the Church (Revelation 12:17)
The Queen of Israel were never a wife of the King, but the mother of the King. The position of the Queen Mother in the court of the King, is to offer requests and intercession for the people in the presence of the King.
Because of the sin of God’s people, the weight of oppression from Pagan nations bring despair and bondage, but the Lord of Heaven and earth, the God of Israel gave this prophecy that would restore hope among God’s people.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. He shall be living on curds and honey by the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good…” (Isaiah 7:14).
Isaiah wrote this sometime between 742-687 B.C. That was a long time before the actual arrival of Jesus Christ.
Of this Child, Isaiah writes, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” Isaiah 9:5-6
The Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary, “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”.
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God”.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end”.
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man”? And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).
Concerning this child, St.John writes, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth” (Revelation 12:1-2).
The virgin birth of Our Lord is so closely connected with the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother that one would not exist without the other.
Mary is the woman of Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel”.
This is spiritual warfare being waged and the human race is caught right in the middle of it. Actually it is for the human race that the war is being waged. God’s love for mankind was the reason why Jesus came and died on the cross. It was for our sake.
As the serpent strikes at the Lord’s heel, he stands on the sand of the sea positioning himself to strike after the rest of Mary’s offspring, “those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
We know that Satan can appear as an “angel of light”, “And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
This is why St. John instructs us to test the spirit. 1 John 4:1-6 warns, “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ came in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world”.
God prepared this woman from her very beginning known as the Immaculate Conception. She was visited by an Archangel bearing upon her a great title, “Hail, full of grace”.
This was foretold by the prophets of old. How do you judge a true prophet from a false prophet?
God told Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die. If you say to yourselves, how can we recognize an oracle which the Lord has spoken? Know that, even though a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if his oracle is not fulfilled or verified, it is an oracle which the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously, and you shall have no fear of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).
For those who want to resurrect these Pagan gods who bore likeness or held to similar attributes or claims of the Lord, know this: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalms 95:7-8)
While deployed to the Mojave desert at the Fort Irwin National Training Center, I was asked by a fellow Soldier why I would be so strong in my faith in Christ, how I could be so sure in my faith. I responded this way: If you look at the Old Testament and gathered up all the prophecy related to the Messiah, that spanned thousands of years with many authors. Consider how Jesus fulfills all these prophecies in one human life time.
From when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing to the Virgin who would be Jesus Mother, to the Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, to where Jesus would be born. There are several hundred such prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. It would take more faith to not believe that to believe. The Soldier went away and thought about what I told him.
We are all called to plant seeds and we plant them where ever we are planted ourselves. You might be a Father and a Mother teaching your children, you might be a co-worker at a warehouse, you might meet someone at a restaurant. You never know when the Lord might send someone into your life that we are to plant seeds.
2 Timothy 1:8 states, “So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”